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Structural Designer

Make buildings safe and strong by planning their basic structure.

What does a Structural Designer do?

Have you ever wondered how the seemingly simple building in the center of town can handle the weight of a giant bell tower? Or found yourself contemplating arches on a bridge, assessing whether they are structural or embellishments? If so, a career as a structural designer might be right up your alley.

A structural designer works hand in hand with engineers and architects to create sketches and computerized designs of buildings. Your goal is to ensure buildings are safe, functional, and interesting. The fun doesn’t stop at buildings, though, because you might also work on huge ships, bridges, or tunnels.

There are many considerations when taking on a project the scale of a skyscraper (and even smaller ones, such as a public library). For example, capacity and weight both impact the design, so you need to know what the purpose of the building is, how many pieces of equipment, machines, and bodies will be in it, and whether it will serve any special functions.

You also consider external factors such as earthquakes and wind. How much can the building sway? What types of materials will make it light enough or too heavy to be safe?

While the architect embellishes the framework, you’re responsible for the beams, columns, bracings, and similar structural components. Of course, you also consider building codes, safety standards, air circulation, window and door openings, glass and other materials, and the height of the structure. And don’t forget: you work within a time frame and need keep the project within budget.